In these times, you may be one of many people who make sure they keep hand sanitizer available at all times, which most likely includes your car. You probably use it when you get into your vehicle after being out in public.

If you end up pulled over by a police officer within minutes of using it, you may find yourself in trouble. The reason hand sanitizer is so effective is that it contains alcohol. Well, that alcohol could cause a problem if an officer asks you to participate in a roadside breath test or takes you to a police station or jail for another breath test.

What makes hand sanitizer valuable also makes it dangerous

It’s probably safe to say that the use of hand sanitizer has increased dramatically in recent months. This includes everyone, including you and law enforcement officials. Here’s what studies show is the problem with using it and taking or administering breath tests whether they happen on the side of the road or in a more controlled setting:

  • The vapors from hand sanitizers can cause false positives and errors in breath testing machines.
  • Nearly every police department has rules regarding exposing a person to alcohol in any form prior to testing for a minimum of 15 minutes. However, that restriction may not explicitly extend to the officers and others who may be in the vicinity of the machine.
  • Handheld devices may be more susceptible to error and false positives than the “official” machines.
  • In a sample of 130 people proved sober for the testing, 13 received false positives when tested after using hand sanitizer. Another 41 people’s tests resulted in error messages.
  • Therefore, 10% of test subjects would have gone to jail based on the results.

The lesson is that, if an officer happens to pull you over within minutes of using hand sanitizer, you could end up under arrest on suspicion of DUI after participating in a roadside breath test. Even though, by the time you reach the police station, your hand sanitizer may not be an issue, the officers around you may have used it recently. As you can see, the situation could become problematic at best.

As is the case with any contact you may have with law enforcement, you have the right to challenge the results of any test given to you. In a time when using hand sanitizer has become part of many people’s routines while in public or after dealing with other people, the chance exists that you could end up arrested even if your blood alcohol concentration could not have been over the legal limit.